Implications for the Church in upcoming 2016 census

Fr Brian Lucas

In a month's time, Australians will complete the 2016 census. The data will give the most detailed picture yet of Australia's cultural diversity - and mean a potentially serious implication for the works of the Church, Helen Isbister reports for SBS World News.

With the question of religion, Catholicism is at risk of losing its status as the most popular faith in five-yearly headcount due to take place on August 9.

The census helps with planning of services, education, employment programs, transport, and infrastructure such as health, according to Duncan Young, Head of the 2016 Census.

There will be 10 million households and 24 million people surveyed. But on the question of faith (an optional question) the box for No Religion has jumped from last position to head the choices.

Catholic comes second, followed by Anglican, Uniting, Presbyterian, Buddhism, Islam, Greek Orthodox, and so on.

When a similar change happened in New Zealand, Christianity lost its majority. The number for No Religion in Australia has jumped from one in 250 in 1911 to one in five at the last census, in 2011.

Fr Brian Lucas, Director of Catholic Mission, said the decline in formal religious belief, did not mean a decline in spirituality,

The Atheist Foundation has launched a campaign to ask people if being born into a religion means they actually identify with it. A change in the numbers registering No Religion or a particular faith could impact on funding for hospitals and charities.

"I would have thought that the Atheist Foundation could have found something better to spend its money on with all the needs in our community," said Fr Lucas.

Census 2016 ABS World News (story begins at 28 mins 45 secs)

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